On October 6, the General Membership of Liberty City held its Fall Candidates Night and Endorsement meeting. Approximately 50 members of the community came out to hear candidates for office speak and then to vote on our fall endorsements. Our Co-Chair, Lee Carson, opened the meeting and presented announcements. After that he introduced Cei Bell, a member of the Endorsement Committee, who moderated our candidate's discussion.
We first heard from Councilman Bill Greenlee, who was not endorsed by Liberty City in the primary. Greenlee is an incumbent At-large Councilperson and is one of 5 incumbents running for 5 available seats. Since the organization endorsed two challengers in the Primary Election, out lesbian Sherrie Cohen and community activist Andy Toy, two incumbent councilmembers were not endorsed, including Councilman Greenlee. Now that the primary election has passed, and the two challengers did not win, we were able to reconsider Greenlee for endorsement. Greenlee addressed the membership and reiterated his work with the Human Relations Commission to strengthen our Fair Practices Ordinance. After he spoke, the membership unanimously voted to endorse him in the fall election.
1st District Council candidate Mark Squilla spoke next. He also competed for our endorsement in the primary election, but the membership endorsed candidate Joe Grace, who came in second place in a four person race. Squilla won the Primary Election to replace Councilman Frank DiCicco. Even though he is running unopposed in the General Election, he nevertheless appeared once again before Liberty City to earn our endorsement. He reiterated his opposition to selling city owned land to the Boy Scouts as well as his opposition to gender markers on SEPTA trans passes. A member asked if he supported the earned sick leave bill that Mayor Nutter has vetoed. He said that he would not support it in its current form because he doesn't believe it will pass, but would consider supporting a bill with revised language. After discussion by the membership, Squilla was overwhelmingly endorsed.
We then heard from Keith Collins who is running for Delaware County Council. He told us that no Democrat has been elected to Delco's Council in 40 years. He plans to fight for a countywide Human Relations Ordinance much like what we have in Philadelphia. The organization also voted to Endorse Mr. Collins.
Municipal Court Judge James DeLeon spoke on behalf of himself and all of the judges running for retention this fall. Every 10 years a sitting judge must appear on the ballot in a retention election. Retention elections are nonpartisan yes/no elections in which voters decide whether sitting judges should continue to serve for another term. After much discussion, the membership decided not to endorse any judicial retention candidates because we had no information about any of the individual candidates appearing on the ballot.
Three candidates who we endorse in the Primary and won their election returned and spoke to thank us for our support. They were Councilman Bill Green, City Commissioner candidate Stephanie Singer, and Common Pleas Judicial candidate Carolyn Nichols. Each will appear on our slate of endorsed candidates for the fall election.
Finally, Al Schmidt, the Republican candidate for City Commissioner addressed the membership. It was made clear to him that he was not eligible for our endorsement since he was running on the Republican ticket. Allowing Schmidt to speak was consistent with past practices of allowing Green Party and independent candidates an opportunity to speak. After Mr. Schmidt spoke, one member requested that we reconsider that policy and argued that Republicans should not be allowed to speak before the membership of what is a Democratic Party organization. The Co-chair said the board will look into the policy of who gets to speak before the General Membership.
Liberty City is interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter. Should Republicans be banned from speaking before Liberty City, since our mission is to elect LGBT supportive Democrats? What about independent candidates or other progressives from the Green Party or other third parties? Let us know in the comment section below what you think, and the Board will take it into consideration when we next meet.